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Carbon Sequestering: Synthesizing Passive House and Healthy Materials

November 4, 2022 @ 2:00 pm - 7:00 pm


In Person at: Parsons School of Design: Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall


Passive House approach to operational energy with challenges of addressing upfront embodied carbon, as a key combination to address in approaching carbon-zero buildings.

​​To move our construction into a carbon-neutral environment it is essential to address the operational energy through Passive House performance together with the upfront embodied carbon through an integrated and methodical approach. The symposium “Carbon Sequestering: Synthesizing Passive House and Healthy Materials” will explore the possibility of radically reducing carbon emissions of the constructed environment; and explore where low carbon/carbon sequestering materials may also present healthier material options.

The event will feature presentations, panel discussions and workshops bringing together professionals and students to advance the discussion to reach carbon-zero buildings.


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Organized by New York Passive House and presented by The School of Constructed Environments at Parsons School of Design


Symposium: Friday, November 4

Carbon Sequestering: 2:00PM - 3:15 PM

Welcome Remarks:

  • Alison Mears, Associate Professor of Architecture, Director, Healthy Materials Lab, Parsons School of Design
  • Andreas M Benzing, Executive Director, New York Passive House

Dr. Kimberley Rain Miner – Carbon Tipping Point

Dr. Kimberley R. Miner is a Scientist and Systems Engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in California, where she researches and forecasts climate risks. Her work has taken her to the most extreme environments in the world- from Antarctica to Mt. Everest- where her team secured a Guinness World Record for identifying the highest altitude pollutants. Dr. Miner’s research has been highlighted by CBS, the New York Times, Washington Post, GQ, and Sports Illustrated. Before coming to NASA, she worked with the Department of Defense in Washington DC, assessing climate risks to national interests.

Dr. Wolfgang Feist – PHI research update

The Passive House Institute (PHI) is an independent research institute founded 1996 by Dr Wolfgang Feist with a continuously growing interdisciplinary team of employees.  PHI has played an especially crucial role in the development of the Passive House concept. The first pilot project ( Kranichstein Passive House, Darmstadt, Germany, 1990) was Europe’s first inhabited multi-family house to achieve a documented heating energy consumption of below 10 kWh/(m²a), a consumption level confirmed through years of detailed monitoring.

Chris Magwood – Build Beyond Zero

Chris Magwood is obsessed with helping reverse climate change by making carbon-storing buildings that are also healthy, beautiful, efficient and inspiring and assisting others to do the same.

In 2022, Chris joined the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Embodied Carbon initiative within RMI’s Carbon-Free Buildings team.

In 2019, he helped to establish Builders for Climate Action, and has been leading development of the BEAM carbon estimator tool for low- rise construction. He is working closely with many levels of government to develop embodied carbon benchmarks and regulatory programs, and helping developers and builders figure out how to reverse climate change with their buildings.

The Largest Passive House Retrofit: 3:15 PM - 4:00 PM

FXCollaborative – Rubin Hall, NYU

Located at the iconic address of 35 5th Avenue, the historic landmark Rubin Hall is a bustling community comprised of approximately 680 first-year students. With its forthcoming renovation, Rubin Hall (proj, 2023 – 2024) will be the largest EnerPHit Passive House retrofit in the world and a model for the future of pre-war buildings. The project is designed with all-electric mechanical systems and historically-appropriate triple-glazed windows.

Embodied Carbon Story at Lendlease: 4:15 PM - 4:30 PM

Amanda Kaminsky is Director of Sustainable Construction for Lendlease’s Americas portfolio, where she collaborates with teams to optimize the whole system health of construction.

Previously, Amanda established and led Building Product Ecosystems LLC to pilot and scale improvements to product, process, standards, and infrastructure on behalf of building owners, their design and construction teams, supply chains, recycling networks, and impacted communities, engaging regional policy makers and academic research where needed.

The Whole Carbon Picture: 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM

SOM – Urban Sequoia Skyscraper

What if buildings could act like trees—capturing carbon, purifying the air, and regenerating the environment? Taking inspiration from natural processes and ecosystems, Urban Sequoia envisions “forests” of buildings that create a new carbon-removal economy and a resilient future for cities.

Introduction to SOM Team and Topics

De-Spec – Over the past two years, the Specifications Department at the international Architectural/Engineering firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) has been hard at work “de-carbonizing” and “de-chemicalizing” our SOM Master Specifications and revising them towards more sustainable, responsible projects.

Please join us as we share our work, what we have learned, and what we think still needs to be done.

  • Rowan O. Georges, AIA, Senior Associate Principal – Specifications Writer at SOM
  • Cynthia Heimann, AIA, Associate Principal – Specifications Writer at SOM

Urban Sequoia brings together different strands of sustainable design thinking, the latest innovations, and emerging technologies and reimagines them at the scale of a building. By holistically optimizing building design, minimizing materials, integrating biomaterials, advanced biomass, and carbon capture technologies, Urban Sequoia achieves substantially more significant carbon reductions than has been achieved by applying these techniques separately.

Prometheus Materials delivers sustainable building materials that accelerate the world’s transition to a carbon-negative future. Inspired by biological processes found in nature, the company has developed a technology that uses naturally occurring microalgae to produce a bio-cement that offers a strong and durable alternative to carbon-intensive portland cement. When mixed with aggregate, this bio-cement creates a zero-carbon building material with the mechanical, physical, and thermal properties comparable or, in some cases, superior to portland cement-based concrete.

  • Loren Burnett, President, CEO and Co-Founder at Prometheus Materials

Interactive Networking: 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Q&A Panel – How to move forward? – Moderated by: Sara A Bayer & Buck Moorhead

  • Chris Magwood – Build Beyond Zero
  • Alison Mears, Associate Professor of Architecture, Director, Healthy Materials Lab
  • Mikhail Haramati, NYSERDA Carbon Neutral Buildings
  • Michael Syracuse, Partner FXCollaborative Architects LLP
  • Cecil Scheib, Chief Sustainability Officer, NYU
  • Rowan O. Georges, AIA, Senior Associate Principal – Specifications Writer at SOM

Open Bar

Workshops: Saturday, November 5

Carbon Tools: 9:00 am - 10:30 am

Join us on Saturday for our Carbon Workshops:

  • BEAM: A Tool for Climate Action – Chris Magwoood
  • Using the PHPP to Assess Operational Carbon Emissions – Ed May
  • Embodied Carbon 101- Building – Aurora Jensen

Register for the Workshops >




Symposium Committee:

  • Sara A Bayer, Chair Membership Engagement, New York Passive House
  • Buck Moorhead, Board Chair, New York Passive House
  • Andreas M Benzing, Executive Director, New York Passive House
  • Bethany Camarati, Associate Director of Operations, Parsons School of Design
  • Lori Maffucci, Program Administrator, Parsons School of Design